My head keeps ringing with “refine your ideal client profile” and “test your pricing model again to increase margins.” These are the repetitive tasks every consultant must attend to, in order to drive profitability in his or her practice. Lately I have been working with my consulting clients on a new approach: refining their client profiles and pricing models based on specialized offerings to targeted market sectors.
Many consulting practices have specialized (vertical) offerings within their broad-based expertise, even successful solo practices. Our expertise can easily apply to many industries, so we consider our offerings “horizontal.”
But then, successful positioning becomes a challenge because we are speaking to multiple audiences. So often I see a highly-regarded consultant listing all of his or her services in one long list, presented to everyone who may drop by the website or Linkedin profile. The work falls to the readers (prospects) to sort out which services best apply to their situation (this is not “working smarter”).
So I have been working with my clients to refine their positioning and targeting of prospects. Pulling out these “vertical markets” is not as simple as it seems. But once identified, we can build out all the value propositions for each specialty, draft positioning language for each one, build supporting materials, content, and presentations to deliver to each sector, and highly refine our targeting of prospects. Then we can price and package the offerings to suit the buying preferences of each market sector, based on the value delivered.
With all this prepared (whew!), we can design a revenue strategy which prioritizes how many clients we want from each sector, at what price and package and commitment, to bring us the highest margins with the best balance of time and effort (and lifestyle).
One client just carefully converted an aggressive pursuit from an employer (to abandon his practice and take an executive position) into an opportunity for long-term consulting. Another is considering adapting her pro-bono experience for not-for-profits into a new, paid market sector for similar organizations to hire her expertise. Yet another is leveraging his recent international work for an emerging market sector for work across the world.
Finding your hidden markets, and addressing them directly, is a key competitive advantage that will raise your profile above the other “generalists” who say they do what you do.